Sunday, 20 April 2014

UK Featherweight Champs 2014 thing

I am just back and recovering from the 5 day away at the UK champs at the Gadget Show Live exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham. I had a wonderful time, being able to spend days with like minded people who I can actually talk to and engage with was so great. I never people especially well but I loved my time and all who I spoke with.

I headed up with my dad to meet up with Ellis and Pete Ware on Wednesday before the first day of qualifiers. We met at a stop off along the motorway and I moved all my crap out of our car into theirs. Also got to poke Rango a little bit. Machine looked sweet as fuck and Ellis had worked so hard to get it running in time. There were a few rough edges etc but it was mostly there. Massacre was in a surprisingly finished state. We turned up to the NEC a while later, after a quick lunch of pork pies and crisps as the security guys sorted out passes and that we were allowed in and could unload our gear into the Robochallange stand.

Massy and Rango in the pits. I was good to go, but Rango still needed some finalising. It had some overheating problems and would cook a few motors as the competition went on due to Ellis being given the wrong specification for the motors.

Robots. The robot on the far left is Binky which is a massive vertical spinner that had its way with a lot of the competition when it was running. On the Rango bench you can see the spare discs and some axe protection 12mm hdpe plate.

Pete and Ellis testing Rango in the arena. They were playing with the DX6i's settings to make it better to drive with the faster motors. Only thing I did on Massacre was charge the battery and check the wedge for optimum floor scrapeyness.

Shot of the empty pits. Empty because this was the day before the competition started.

This was on Thursday, the first day of the event. All robots had 2 fights today My first fight was a one on one (the fights are normally a 3 way) with a pneumatic flipper. This was known as H4 which was built by Mario. It got sold on. The new owner got it to 4th place but doesn't seem to know what they are doing in most maintenance or general robot fixing respects.

Defector, formally H4. The only fight I won. My belt tension went funny so I couldn't spin up quickly. I could have kept trying but it would have taken too long to get up to speed. Despite what the commentator was saying the weapon worked fine I just stopped spinning up and turned it into a pushing match, something I knew I could win.

Massacre before the fight. Looking at the picture now I can see that the belt looks looser than I would like. Ah well. I've learned something from that experience.

Ghetto-bodge tensioner. Two flanged bushings running on an M10 bolt. I drowned this in grease and it seemed to work okay for the following fights, although it fell out on a big hit from Conker 3

Massacre back together after the tensioner had been added, the battery charged and everthing else checked over and tightened.

Just to prove I won! Hey, when you see success as little as I do you learn to take what you can.

Here is Drumroll, a very nice drum spinner built by the wonderful Jamie McHarg who is easily one of the nicest guys in this sport. I was drawn to fight this second, alongside another spinner, Conker 3. The drum was ripped out in its first fight and a bulkhead bent. It ran without the weapon for its second fight and Jamie managed to get it running again for the second day.

Some hard work going on Drumroll, actually since Jamie had to run drumless in this fight I suggested we name it simply Roll and tape out the drum part.

Here we see the line-up of robots for the fight. Massacre far left, Conker 3 middle and Roll on the floor on the right. I was looking forward to this fight. I was confident in my ability to spin up and it was hardly going to be a boring fight. I was hardly going to win, but I knew there would be at least one big bang.

The fight!

Ouch! Conker went in for a bit of the old ultraviolence on Massacre. It bent both 8 and 3.2mm hardened steels. The dent in the base is right where the weapon ESC sat so that was cattled. I didn't realise this until I plugged the link back in to test it after the fight and got smoke pour out of the robot. However since we both kinda took each other out, Roll was able to take the win! Love it!

The damage wasn't all one way. I managed to bend Conker's beater by a fraction that meant it would just kill its own bearings when it span resulting in some lovely sparks from the fiction on the rollers.

Now all this damage, while entertaining, had left me without a working robot on the first day of a 4 day competition and with 2 fights left. A few people were heading back to the main Priory Casters/Robochallange workshop to do repairs and we went along to. Ellis to work on Rango a bit more and me to see if anything could be done on Massacre.

Once there I assessed the damage once again. The base being straightened was vital. I got some help from Dave Moulds and Mark Lumb in getting the bent bolts and stripped heads out of the base. Then the base was taken away to a press and after a while was mostly straightened again, of course not perfect but good enough. I then stripped out the damaged electronics to see if there was the possibility of a fix.

I swear this had capacitors on the front the last time I looked. I later found them floating around in the robot.

Yeah not so great. All the components seemed to have moved 5mm from where they should be. Verdict: definitely cattled.

Once the ESC was removed and the base was off I made a mess of the wiring which wasn't particularly neat to begin with.

Roboteers being a wonderful bunch of people I got lent a redbrick controller which was excellent as it meant I could have a weapon again!

Massacre back together! A few things still needed doing but at this point I had already seen 2 two o clocks in one period of being awake and was about an hour off seeing a third. This coupled with the 8am check in time for the event meant everyone was pretty damn tired.

Pictures failed to really happen as I had to properly concentrate on the few jobs I had left still to do after the late night/early morning straightening adventure. One of the things I did grab was a shot of Conker with the beater taken out. Alex had dashed out to RS components to get a new set of bearings and belts.

I also quickly made a more manly link cover out of some tube by drilling and tapping a hole for a set screw to hold it onto the shaft. Bodged, but much stronger than epoxy!

And then Massacre before its 3rd fight. Next to it you can see Defector again and down the right hand side you can see the solid brick of Endeavour. The fight took a while to start because Defector had to basically be taken apart in order to be turned on so me and Endeavour were stuck hanging around while the driver dashed around grabbing Allen keys and taking the back off the robot. The fight eventually started, I was easy on the weapon throttle as I was up against walls or being rammed a lot and didn't want to stall the motor out and kill the borrowed ESC. Eventually I was clear enough to try properly and I went for it. Endeavour went straight for me and pushed my wedge up into the bar, bending the wedge and maybes scratching the paint slightly on the Hardox wedge.. Endeavour then dominated the rest of the fight and won on a judges decision.

Did I do that? Oops. Bended wedge is bended.

Wedge is mostly straightened out without much effort. I like this material much better than those bastard hardened pain-in-the-arse steels.

Onto the 4th and sadly final fight for Massacre. This was against the vertical disc of DB10 and the electric axe of No Toy. Both of these things were quite worrying but I knew it was going to be an interesting fight regardless.

It was a very short fight for Massacre as it turned out but still pretty cool. Span up without any problems and I didn't helicopter myself upside down.  Fight is here!

I managed to crack a panel on DB10. The inner Alumec structure is very stiff, the titanium outer armour flexed but the panel behind it didn't meaning there was a small crack. Not quite epic destruction but its something at least. DB10 also put some nice dents in the top, very nearly penetrated.

So this was Massacre out of the competition. Disappointed I couldn't do better but still it's better than last years attempt. With 2 days left of the competition I began making myself slightly useful and became pit crew for Rango and an extra pair of hands where needed.

I also had time to mess about too...

Rango was knocking its way though the competition. I'm hopefully going to bully Ellis into doing a proper write up and I can link it here. Luck played a part but once we'd fixed the controller heating problems with coke can and thermal compound and he had some new higher voltage motors donated to stop the motor burn outs he was well on the way. Fucked a few robots up in a fairly major way!

Drumroll was also doing well in the competition and had made it into the top ten with ease. It was drawn to fight Rango but unfortunately the motor on the drum got cattled in the fight before and the weapon shaft got banana'd again too! I lent Jamie my inrunner because it had the same bolt pattern and we got it together. Testing showed the motor drew too much current and blew a fuse. I'm so sorry Jamie if you are reading this!
He ran weaponless in the fight but sadly lost and placed 5th overall.

Notice the sneaky MassyMotor in there. Sorry again about that!

Random robot photo time, this is the successful and feared drum spinner, 720. Thick Alumec frame with Hardox armour and a titanium drum. I think the inrunner it has is the legit version of my chinese knockoff.

Ellis and Rango before going into the third place playoff. Tightening bolts and lubing the ghetto-tensioners.

Ellis (no Rango) after winning 3rd place! Because awesome robot is awesome and well deserved trophy is well fucking deserved.

Now where did I park my robot? We got all the featherweights together to to a massive group photo thing. My camera got handed to my mother so dubious pictures are not my fault for once.

The guy in the hat with crossed arms is me.

Pingu, a robot by Elvis. 3rd seeded featherweight in the country.

Massacre before any combat.

Massacre after a little bit of combat.

Overall I had so much fun and I'm pretty fucking sad now as it's the longest possible time until the next one. Not sure what I will do design wise. Something I'll spam here in due time. I am happy I managed to document my build and give myself something to look back on.

Thanks for dealing with the clusterfuck TL;DR worthy post. Cheers, Haz.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Massacre 8: Finished and pre champs panic

Pre Champs Panic sounds like a really bad pop punk band from 2008.

But yeah. Massacre is done, or at least as done as it's going to get. I head off to the NEC tomorrow and have my first rounds of qualifiers the day after.

First up on the list of parts still to do was to make up a link protectey device. I had toyed with the idea of milling out a HDPE block for it to sit in but that was quite a lot of effort. In the end I used a bit of hollow 25mm OD tube that I got from my high school. It had probably fallen off a handle somewhere so had been added to the Resmat pile of materials. Of cource 25 OD cannot pysically mean 25mm ID so I cut some slits in it and bent it outwards to be a snug pushfit.

Once formed I epoxied it to a shaft collar. Because super legit attachment methods are my speciality.

Oh and also at this point the spare bar has been painted up. It feels so weird having a spare of the most expensive part of the robot (maybe it was expensive because I got a spare)

Now came fitting the top cover. Slight cockup here as I moved the  weapon assembly backwards about 30mm or so in order for me to actually have space to put electronics and ting. This meant the top had the hole in the wrong place. Solution, chop it up. This kinda ended up being a good thing because it means I can take the top cover off and poke the internals while leaving the weapon bar still physically attached to the robot.  Go Go Gadget marking out skillz!

I neatened this up and Bored the hole for the flange of the Open Ranglebox to sit through. Bored a 26mm hole for a 17mm flange as better safe than sorry.

I like polycarbonate.  I then stuck a couple of the holes through it, and drilled and tapped holes in the frame and Pretend-O'd it all together. It sticks up at the back because reasons that we will come to later (spoiler, its because I'm dreadfully n00by still)

No banana for scale, so have an 73mm Banebots wheel instead.

Conclusion, bar is low


Stuck it on a scale. 13.1kg. The weight limit is 13.6kg which is 30lb, I'm not going to try and make it up to weight as I think 500g tolerance is about right for this dubious scale of unknown accuracy. It puts me at about 96kg so its kinda sorta accurate (I'm a heavy guy) Anyway I had like one 100 by 50 by 4mm thick bit of polycarbonate still to add so no big deal.

The bit of polycarbonate in question. This peice was a total disaster. I didn't think it through. The bar hit the LED and the holes were in the wrong place. I AM NOT A CLEVER MAN OKAY. I solved this by drilling a hole in the back of Massacre and mounting the LED there...

Damnit drill bit you had one job! I nearly got through the whole build without broken drills or taps and then i go right ahead and break one on the last hole. And it was 8.5mm as well. How does one even logic?

Yay power light of eternal excitement! Then there was only the question of the small 100 by 500 hole at the back of my robot. In the end I cut up a bit of black HDPE of the same thickness and shoved it in there as I'd run out of polycarbonate

Harry.... wut r u doin...
Yeah okay I'm slightly milling a pocket in the top panel because the fuse is about 2mm too tall for the frame. I'm not the best at this designing things lark.

Pocket milled. Was pretty painless. Please take your time to appreciate my wonderful MDF and screw setup for holding the work piece. I'll never be a machinist.

All in place and it works really well considering I did it and I just ghetto hacked it up out of nothing.

I cut my self quite badly on my middle finger while making the sharp edge protection, oh the irony! Thanks Obama.

Made up spare wheels and I'm bringing some spare drill motors (my motors have the same internals but much nicer CNC milled nylon casings) These are the first pair of drill motors I bought. Bit like Trigger's broom as they have had new motors and a couple new gear sets but still.

Protection for the bar. Its not sharp, but I would get in trouble if I didn't have protection on it.

I made a semi legit list of things to take, as it is a longer competition and I'm looking after my self and Massacre from Wednesday through to Sunday. I found most of my tools then relocated to my bedroom where I set up base camp alpha for a sort of forward command type affair with regards to packing.

Showing off the cradle I made for massacre to sit up on while its in the pits area.

Its probably not a good thing for it to look like this late in the game! I opened up to see if I could cure failsafing problems. Luckily enough someone offered to lend me a RX. I love this hobby, the guys will fuck your shit up in a major way then help you fix it, or will help you fix up your robot in order for them to fuck it up!

This morning, Massacre looking more complete than before, mostly because it is. G clamp is the locking bar.

With all the safety shit on.

Bag of pointy, sharpy, rusty tooly things. Enough to keep Massacre going for a few days I hope.

And a bit of decoration is added to the baseplate because label maker and reasons! (the bolts that are missing from the base are supposed to be missing.... Yay incompetence)

That's really about it. I head up and meet Ellis and Pete Ware and I'll be going up with them. Ellis's robot has had some real problems as it turned out he had designed his drive system around a particular set of motors, and only a few days ago he found out that the spec he had been given was totally wrong. Such a shame as after all that planning it was something totally unforeseeable that was the biggest cock up. I hope we can poke it into a better working order as its a fantastic robot and Ellis has the makings of a brilliant engineer.

Final testing video for you. Wish me luck. Probably have a very picture heavy spampost event report about the UK champs!

Cheers, Haz.